Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain that build it (Psalm 126 :1). On this feast of Saint Joseph the Worker, placed before us is the example of a man who never labored in vain. Saint Joseph was a carpenter by trade, but more so a humble servant in the Lord’s vineyard. And it was his gentle steps through that vineyard which compels us to give glory to God and be in awe of the graces He gave to Joseph.
Our God cared for him and protected him in what was a turbulent world. And in the mystery of the Person of Jesus Christ, Saint Joseph cared for and protected his God.
The Gospels record some of those turbulent times in the life of Saint Joseph and the Holy Family, but none of those words recorded in the Gospels flowed from the lips of Saint Joseph. His silence speaks volumes about his trust in God. In the great mystery of eternity, Joseph knew all about carrying the cross and living in the joy of the Resurrection. His eyes passed beyond God’s created beauty and thus were able to see God’s hidden beauty.
I have lifted my eyes to the mountains, from where shall help come to me. My help is from the Lord Who made heaven and earth (Psalm 120 :1-2). Indeed, Saint Joseph overcame adversity by keeping his eyes fixed on God’s mountain. He is a model contemplative.
In the English translation of the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, titled Gaudium et Spes, are found the words “feverish activity”. Saint Joseph was certainly a witness to feverish activity but was not an active participant. He was in it but not of it. He would never disquiet himself.
God is at the center of all things. Meteorologists tell us that in the tumultuous and usually destructive occurrence of a tornado, in the midst of those very chaotic winds is the eye of the tornado which is calm and still. God is the Eye in the storms of life. Saint Joseph may have been able to look all around and see the whirling winds of life, but in the Eye is where he kept his feet firmly planted.
In the book, Where Silence is Praise are these beautiful words: “In all that we do, and at every moment, God has ordained an exact balance between what we have to do and the necessary strength to do it; and this we call grace. Our part is to bring ourselves in line with grace. God uses all the horrors of this world for an infinitely perfect end, and always with an infinite calm. It is part of His plan that we should feel the blows and experience the wounds of life; but more than anything else He wants us to dominate them by the virtues of faith, hope and charity, and so live on His level. In these latter which will raise us up to Him, and then we shall share in His calm, in the highest part of our being.”
While those words were written by a Carthusian monk, they could easily have been authored by Saint Joseph; for he certainly lived those words.
Through the intercession of Saint Joseph, may we, in times of distress and suffering, learn how to restore the Image of God within us and live perpetually in His calm.